Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks

Written by Gary on May 8th, 2024

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is providing us with a last view after passing the sun on the 21st April 2024 and before it returns in another 71 years.

Last night I decided to camp out for the night to make the most of our lovely calm Autumn weather with clear skies and get some shots before it disappears.

As it was a last minute decision to go and I arrived just before sunset, I didn’t get time to align my equatorial mount except very approximately to south and latitude, and with the declination of the comet being at the celestial equator giving the greatest motion per second, even with the motor drive for the mount I decided to restrict my exposures to 13sec and rely on stacking images at f/1.8, ISO 1600 to try to get maximum imagery with least star movement. The wind came up just at the wrong time just to add a further issue.

The comet was only at 15deg altitude above the horizon and only 28deg from the sun so the twilight made the background quite bright and indeed I almost gave up trying to find it even through binoculars and just as I was about to pack up, I found a faint blob in the binoculars and I then just had to locate it with the camera mounted on the equatorial mount.

All the same, I’m pretty happy with how they turned out and the following is a quick edit – I’m sure dedicated astrophotography software would bring the tail out even more but I’ll take this.

Taken on 7th May 2024, Sony a7RIV with Sony 135mm f/1.8 lens 20x13sec images stacked and cropped.

20 RAW images 13sec 135mm lens f/1.8, ISO 1600 stacked in Affinity Photo’s astrophotography stacking function then exported to TIFF for further post-processing of contrast, etc in On1 Photo RAW.

Depending on the characteristics of your display you should see a broad dust trail going perpendicular to the main comet tail as the comet is actually moving upwards and to the left leaving a broad area of dust behind.

See my other comet photos and information on my wikipedia.


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